July 22, 2014 – When you ask…

I need help. Please decide if the following experience is a success or failure:

Walking down the street in Pittsburgh, I was stopped by a man who asked me to buy him a pizza from the place a half block back the way I’d come. I agreed. However, I was so flustered by the experience, since this was my first time buying food for a stranger who asked me, that I forgot that I probably should have stayed at the pizza place and talked. After paying, I didn’t know what to do, so I left, completely failing to seize any moment that might have been present.

Obviously, this may have been an opportunity from God in response to my searching for ways to minister and serve, and while I may not have completely blown it, no one can say I lived up to potential.

Maybe next time.

Maybe I need to walk places more often.

July 10, 2014 – A fearful heart

The Alchemist is a book detailing the journey of a boy named Santiago as he attempts to live out his Personal Legend. It reads like a cross between a folktale and an allegory, and there were several different quotes from its pages that gave me pause. Here is one of them: “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself” -The Alchemist, pg 130.

I am always afraid of suffering, whether it’s  being hungry, being embarrassed, being emotionally hurt, or any other type. But cannot all these things be boiled down to a fear of not being in control? I am afraid that things will happen that I would rather prevent, and is that not built on the lie that I can control things?

As human beings, we control nothing, not even our own bodies. If we are exposed to a virus, we may get sick, no matter the measures we take against it. Anyone who has tried to not think about something know how hard it is to direct your own thoughts, and James 3 speaks at length about the untamable tongue.

So if we combine the realization of not being able to control anything in this world with the assurance that God is a compassionate God, then what is there to fear?

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Romans 8:28-31 NASB


A portion of Santiago's journey

A portion of Santiago’s journey

July 5, 2014 – TED talk: why people need poetry

I have not seen many TED Talks (in fact, I did not know they existed until a few months ago), but I have enjoyed the ones I’ve seen. This one struck me particularly today.

TED Talk



The ending of his talk is abrupt but intentional. He invites you to continue to talk to and with yourself and those around you. His is not a conclusion but a invitation into the world of poetry.

And are not most poems invitations? A poet crafts a form of themselves, fleshes out an idea, hammers an emotion into shape, or details an event, and then invites you to try it on.

Some poems are written to fit like your favorite jeans.

Some, purposefully developed, are intended to scratch and chafe.

Some unzip in the back for you to step into, but once you are inside, you realize that the neck of the poem has been sewn on backwards, and you have to turn your head around to see.

Poems are pieces of the poets; when they invite you to read them, they am holding out an offer to slip into their skin for a bit.

With this is mind, it is obvious why poetry is meant to be read and shared and also why that is such a terrifying thing.


July 3, 2014 – Brimful and Overflowing


I tried to write a cohesive post, I swear I did, but I’m overflowing.


Everything I see (the woods split into individual trees along the road, the other bloggers’ posts, the faces driving past, and more);

every song I hear (Instruments of Mercy, I And Love And You, Two OF Us On The Run, and more);

every person I think about (my best friend, my praying coworkers, the random people I’ve met lately, and more);

every word I consider (honesty, plunge, poetry, and more);

they’re slipping into me, filling me brimful, and I’m still grasping at more, wishing to find enough of an idea to chisel down into a concrete thought.


I want some semblance of a conclusion to be able to point at and present and say, “This, I have this. I understand this. I know where this came from and what to do with this. I have this.”

But I don’t think this is coming.


I have my methods for dealing with overflowing that can’t be written out (running around the track for a while, watching a few episodes of a TV show, cleaning with the music turned loud, finding someplace to cry a little), but what are some of yours?

How do you cope with an overflowing?

June 29, 2014 – Poetical June

June has been kind to me and my poetry. I have been presented with ideas and words and opportunities. What’s more, I want to write, which is a huge part of the battle.

I finished a poem begun in May, which technically makes it a May poem, but it took me most of June to be satisfied with it, to work with it enough to finally be able to call it done. As a combination of the topic, how much I was able to work on it, and the helpful feedback and encouragement of a dear friend, it has turned out to be one of the best poems I have written to date.

Also, I wrote the haiku in the last post as a companion to the post before it. The June 24 prose post was designed to be a prose version of a haiku to an extent, focusing on the moment that is fleeting and an aspect of the human condition. Once I had written it, though, I was still thinking about the idea enough to pen the haiku.

There are two other poems that I am working on for the month of June. Neither will be finished before the month is over, but they are worth continued work. One began from the idea of being honest and open, the other from an afternoon spent in Lake Erie.

The inspiring water

The inspiring water

Thus far in the year, June has definitely been the most poetical month. I began my Poem A Month challenge in January and February well with two poems each, but a dry spell in March, April, and May brought only one apiece. Now that I seem to be back in a thoughtful, poetical mindset, I am excited to see if the June’s inspiration will continue in July.

I also think I found a name for my independent press once 2014 is over, and I put together my chapbook for the year. Hooray!

Poetry writing!

Poetry writing!

June 24, 2014 – “…turn off the lights when you leave…”

Driving in the dark rain, beside the obscured river, past empty buildings and filled houses, she felt the smoothness of the curving road.

The new CD played a smooth song, narrating the water moving across the windshield.

     “There were two of us on the run…

   …going so fast every doubt we had was coming undone…

   …falling behind with everything we left there.

      We held on…

   …for far too long

       Now we pass so many people on the road…

   …they could come along. I wish they’d been told…”

The turning of the wheel, the pull of the puddles, the balancing of the foot on the pedal.

Around a curve, the streetlights glared off the wet pavement, an upside-down world to fall into.

     “There’s no race, only a runner…


   …we’re on the run, we’re on the run, we’re on the run, child…”

Why stop?

Why stop driving? Why here? Why this town?

When there was so much more, why sentence herself to tomorrow the same as today?

Leave the keys, the papers, the unfinished poems, the dirty dishes, the tentative plans. All could be replaced.



June 14, 2014 – Sunset Drive

You know those times when you’re driving, and the sun is bright but setting, so it isn’t in your eyes; the air from the open windows is cool enough to be refreshing but not cold; the cars on the road drive just the right speed; and the radio is playing the songs that you’ve heard before, but they’re striking you in a different way. All you want to do is keep driving in the state of tranquility for a long while, maybe all the way to Oregon, maybe never reaching your destination.

You should always take a moment to appreciate those times.